Fewer police were accused of committing criminal acts in 2004 than in the previous year. Men and women in police uniform committed roughly 600 crimes in 2003 and 325 last year, according to newly released information from the Interior Ministry. Observers credit a change in the law that would strip sacked police workers of their pensions. Previously, even police who had committed criminal acts were entitled to benefits unless a separate court action was taken to discontinue them. The most common crime remains the abuse of authority.
The Christian Democrats, a junior party in the ruling coalition government, have returned to their earlier position demanding that Prime Minister Stanislav Gross step down for failing to make fully clear how he financed his luxury Prague flat and how his wife secured business loans to buy other property. After a meeting on Saturday morning between with the Christian Democrats leader, Miroslav Kalousek, the prime minister said Kalousek's party should leave the Cabinet if its members did not trust him. Mr Gross also threatened to ask President Vaclav Klaus to sack the three Christian Democrat ministers. For his part, Mr Kalousek told the media that his party's ministers have no intention of quitting their posts. He said it was the "prime minister's scandals" that had led people to question the government's trustworthiness. Mr Kalousek said that the future of this government is danger if Mr Gross remains at its helm.
In related news, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Mr Gross' luxury flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and of tax evasion; the latter charge is the sole charge of a second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based solely on media reports.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who is also chairman of the Social Democratic Party, has said that deputy party chairman Zdenek Skromach will take formal control of the party for a few days, to allow its members to consider their position on the matter. So far the Social Democrats have supported Mr Gross. Even so, the prime minister said he feared the crisis could result in the collapse of the government. The top three leaders of all three coalition parties, the so-called "K9", are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation further.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Prime Minister Gross' flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and tax evasion; the latter charge is also the subject of the second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based on media reports.
The leadership of the three governing coalition parties are due to meet on Saturday morning in an effort to hammer out a new working relationship. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who is also the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, has come under pressure from the opposition to resign over questions of how he financed the purchase of a luxury Prague flat. But Miroslav Kalousek, the leader of the Christian Democrats, a junior coalition party, had also called for Mr Gross to step down, and there was widespread speculation that the government could collapse.
A forty-member military research unit is to be deployed to Afghanistan in March to join a German-run Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the northern region of Badakshan. The Czech Republic currently has only 15 soldiers in Afghanistan in the ISAF mission in Kabul. The NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team is a combination of international military and civilian personnel based in provincial areas of Afghanistan with the aim of extending the authority of the Afghan central government and helping to facilitate development and reconstruction.
Meanwhile, Mr Gross gave all three ministers of the Christian Democratic Party - the third party in the ruling coalition - twenty-four hours to state whether they feel the government can no longer function and needs a new prime minister. Earlier this week, Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek voiced concern and said the scandal over the prime minister's personal finances has damaged the coalition's reputation. The ministers have rejected Mr Gross' ultimatum on Thursday and called for a meeting of the entire government leadership instead.
The country's dominant telecommunications company, Cesky Telecom, plans to expand to foreign markets, which would include capital entries in other companies, company CEO Gabriel Berdar said on Thursday. According to Mr Berdar, Cesky Telecom generated record-high consolidated revenue last year and can afford to ponder investment and possibly dividends owing to its low debt. In 2004, the company's consolidated revenue totalled 62.1 billion Czech crowns (2.5 billion US dollars), a year-on-year growth of 21 percent.
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